Mercy Me! I've got work to do.

Mercy Me — I've got work to do! making the world a better place – starting with me.

Here’s the plan…


As I wrote in my first entry, my intentions are to spend the next year performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and sharing those experiences with others on this site.  I have spent some time trying to figure out the best way to structure this endeavor (between researching what my husband should buy me for my 40th birthday.)

I thought about alternating between one spiritual work and one corporal work, but the more I researched each I began to realize that there is often overlap.

Then the math doesn’t add up.  I couldn’t concentrate on one per month because there are 14 and I really think those extra two months of good deeds, may send me over the edge.  What if I end up wearing Birkenstocks, growing hair under my armpits and standing on street corners dancing to Gospel music?  I can’t do that.  I‘ve got no rhythm, and those people who dance on street corners and storefronts soliciting business- they’ve got moves.  Admittedly some are quite bizarre, but still I wouldn’t want to disgrace God with my moves.

Another huge hesitation I had was that the first spiritual work of mercy on the list is to admonish sinners.  Of course, the material I have read explains how well-intentioned this one is while also admitting that it is very difficult to do without seeming judgmental.

I hate conflict.  I am a middle child and like Rodney King, I really do just want people to get along.  A month of confrontations didn’t really seem like something I could handle.  Yes, I am a coward, but so were the Apostles and they all became Saints (with the exception of Judas.)

In the end I decided I would commit to completing all 14 acts of mercy in a myriad of small and obvious ways, and write about them at least once a week.

The acts of Mercy are really all quite simple.

Corporal Works of Mercy:

(1) Feed the hungry.
(2) Give drink to the thirsty.
(3) Clothe the naked.
(4) Shelter the homeless.
(5) Visit those in prison.
(6) Comfort the sick.
(7) Bury the dead.

Spiritual Works of Mercy:

(1) Admonish sinners.
(2) Instruct the uninformed.
(3) Counsel the doubtful.
(4) Comfort the sorrowful.
(5) Be patient with those in error.
(6) Forgive offenses.
(7) Pray for the living and the dead.

Like all of God’s commandments they can be summed up by doing unto others as you would have done to you.   This is from Matthew 7:12.  I am not a big Bible reader and certainly not someone who can spout numbers accompanied by fancy colons at cocktail parties.

Yet I am familiar with this command and understand it to be the greatest of all commandments.  While it is simple and yes, brilliant, it is also very challenging to do with all the distractions in our lives.  (Not to mention the fact that some people don’t even treat themselves very well, so the whole way they view others will naturally be a little skewed.)

My mother is an incredibly compassionate and kind person.   I may not have given a very favorable impression of her in my first entry because she was too good at performing the first spiritual work of mercy, and perpetually aggravating me with admonishments.  But she is a good person.

Any way, we were having lunch a few weeks ago and our busboy was obviously mentally disabled.  My mom went out of her way to be kind to him, handing him extra money and telling him he was her favorite (kind of like she did with me and my siblings except she didn’t pay us.)  It was obvious that this made him happy, and I am sure proud.  It wasn’t anything profound.  It was simple, but it was certainly kind and sincere.

It also made me think how much easier it is to be kind to someone we don’t know.  Someone who has not hurt us and someone we have no responsibilities to.  This isn’t to take away from my mother’s deed.  It just made me realize in all my genuine enthusiasm for beginning this project and coming up with these diverse ways to help people in my community, I would be remiss to discount those closest to me.  Not just for their sake, but for mine.

I know for me that will be the most challenging work.  Perhaps, it will also be the most rewarding by enriching the relationships I have with those people I love the most; despite the fact that they can drive me nuts.

So I have set my intention on this – a year of acts of mercies, in any and every conceivable order with organizations, individuals and yes, I dare say those whom I hold most dear.



Author: Lara Patangan

Mercy me, I’ve got work to do… is a blog I started on my 40th birthday to chronicle my experiences spending the year doing corporal and spiritual works of mercy. No longer on the cusp of a new decade, I am still here finding that much work remains – in the world, my community, my relationship with God and perhaps most challenging, within myself. Please sign up and join me as we share the work that matters most – being better people. In hopes that when the decades cease to pass the world will still whisper of the graces left in our wake.

16 thoughts on “Here’s the plan…

  1. Looking forward to following this journey, girl!


  2. This might sound like blasephemy, but perhaps you can forgo the 40th birthday gifts or have them sent to those in need. That would be a good first start in your journey.


    • I thought about that — doing a big party and making it a fundraiser. I think I will for something else, but I really just celebrated with a few close friends. But it is a good idea and I would love it if you share any others — either needs in the community or ideas for marketing.


  3. I think you will find it to be less and less a journey and more an evolution of who you are. Enjoy it – all of it. Even the sucky parts 🙂


    • Well said Karen and I think you are right. I already feel like I can’t separate this from my life. It’s almost like how its hard to imagine your life pre-kids — what did I do before this.


  4. Thank you for my daily dose of inspiration!! (In my mind, I’m dancing on the street corner right next to you.)


  5. You are a very gifted writer… love your humor… excited for you!


  6. Not many people have me cracking up at 6:30 in the morning, but picturing you wearing Birkenstocks, singing Gospel on the corner with hairy armpits practically had me rolling on the floor. Good luck!


    • It’s a terrifying image. But last week I had jury duty, I was chosen and being interviewed by the prosecuting attorney. He asked me what I do besides raise my children (because God knows that’s not enough). I told the entire court room that I was starting a blog about corporal and spiritual works of mercy. That’s when it hit me — I am a Jesus freak! It’s a slippery slope so I have to make sure I keep shaving and wearing cute, uncomfortable shoes!


  7. I want to “like” your post but it doesn’t have my password or something weird is going on.

    Anyway – I “like” it!!


  8. Lara,
    The adventure that you have chosen to embark on will not only be challenging, but rewarding. Our journey in this life is remarkable in itself. You have finally found the map of your life and can see with clear vision why this topographical illustration has surfaced as you guided chaperon.
    The symbols and characters on this map are illustrated for your own interpretation. The experiences you have encountered will be the cardinal direction that you guide you to the next expedition of your journey. New roads are detailed with new destination points give you the ability to explore your next undertaking. The chances that you take following an unmarked territory from your map of life will lead you to new exploration points on your geographical chart.
    Your stories will classify you an an explorer, an adventurer, a wonderer in your map of life. Your experiences will create us all to look deeper into ourselves, our actions, our way of thinking.
    Very proud of you Lara, you are bringing out the social worker in me. I look forward to following you on this uncharted journey!


    • OMG Raquel — I read this and think you ought to be writing this! Beautiful, generous, gracious — so you. The social worker in you needs to be out — it’s your calling and you do it well.


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